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Where Madness Reigns Free

Holding onto my sanity (don't leave me just yet)

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Symptoms of Somnacin [1/2]
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angleico315678

Title: Symptoms of Somnacin [1/2]
Rating: T for swearing and incinuations of sex
Author:angleico315678
Pairings: Arthur/Ariadne and Arthur/OC (hints of it)
Word Count: 6969 for now
Notes: What started as an innocent little fic about too much somnacin turned into a massive fic that is starting to eat me alive. It got to the extent of me creating another character just for the mere sake of making Ariadne a little jealous. I have posted half so far, I still have a thousand more words in but I need to finish this. This is definitely unbeta'd and you'll probably be able to tell.
Summary: She never thinks she'll lose herself. Not since the Fischer job, she's certain that she can't possibly, despite the fact of her somnacin intake, she can't stop- and everything is spiralling out of control. 




A/N: Well hello, hello. This comm has seemingly died down a little. However, I've been working on this for quite some time. Bear with me with this one. I've created another character because I can't possibly imagine that Arthur was a saint before the inception job. He had to have a past, a scandalous, sexy, naughty, a past that involves a woman. And this one became a massive fic incorporating somnacin/dream addiction and an angsty, deliciously tensioned Arthur/Ariadne. Please forgive the rambling. I am actually delirious from staring at the computer for so long. Please be warned however, that this fic is entirely unbeta'd. It's a little too late now, but would anyone volunteer for beta? Well, here you go-

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You never really see the symptoms at first. The somnacin deceives and tricks the mind. It alters time and dimensions; she can’t find reality anymore. Everything feels so vivid and real, and she can’t tell whether she’s falling through the sky or hitting the ground. Colours and light seem so distinct and so pliable that she feels like she can bend it to her will.

She doesn’t know that it always starts out like this. She hides her doubt and hesitation well. Eames jokes that she has the most innocent poker face. He has no idea, and for some reason she feels elated that he can’t tell. But if things were different, then maybe he could have. Maybe they all could have. Just. Done. Something.

It starts feeling all wrong after five jobs. After five jobs where she insisted on inserting herself into the PASIV devices to, “make sure that the designs worked well.” But really, it was just an excuse to feel the rush of the blood, to become a god in a world without limits. She thought that this was why she never felt she could concentrate in real life. She truly belonged in this world. But it goes wrong of course.

It started with touch. Her fingers trembled ever so slightly as she held X-acto knives or pencils. She thought that it was just the excitement caused by the dreams or the lack of sleep coupled with numerous cups of caffeinated drinks. But even touch began to deceive her. Hard wooden surfaces began to feel limp and impressible and soft objects seemed to dissipate and dissolve into no feeling. It began at her fingertips and slowly traveled down her fingers into her palms. The sensation would come and go but it troubled her deeply. She had to concentrate when picking up objects and control the trembling of her fingers while she was among her coworkers.

Then there were her eyes. Everything seemed too vibrant and bold and when she squinted, lines and silhouettes would start to distort into a hazy mess. She went to the optometrist but he said that her eyesight was fine, if not better since the last time she saw him. He did mention, however, that she was more jittery and distracted than he had ever seen her before. She is caught by surprise; she didn’t know she was that obvious. And when she went to her family doctor for her regular check-ups, her doctor said that her blood pressure was borderline high. She couldn’t really tell him that her job involved stealing ideas from corporate moguls, even if she was the architect.

She was hoping that maybe a little time off from dream sharing and extraction jobs would help her mind calm and maybe these symptoms would start to go away. When she told the team of her decision to take a few months off and visit her family in Portland, they seemed surprised. They had regarded her with worried eyes and lips firmly pressed. Cobb had frowned and squinted at her with crossed arms. Eames had slipped his hands into his pant pockets, his eyes scrutinizing her face, trying to profile her. Yusuf had smiled hesitantly and fiddled with his fingers. And Arthur, if he was worried, he hadn’t shown it. He merely raised his eyebrows a little bit and nodded with a hint of a frown forming. She knew this would screw up his plans and he would have to find a new architect for the new job they just took on.

She had explained to them that her family was becoming increasingly worried about her and she couldn’t hold them back any longer. They were determined to come to LA to visit her and she wasn’t ready to introduce them to her “new job”. She had felt anxious to lie in front of a group of men notorious for lying and detecting deceit. She was pretty sure that they knew she was lying but didn’t feel the need to out her. Although Eames seemed close to saying something but he was cut off with a strict stare from Cobb.

“It’ll be good for you Ariadne.”

“Thanks for being so understanding Cobb, especially since we were about to accept the new…”

“Don’t worry about it. Arthur will find a new architect.”

What they didn’t know was that when she started back in the extraction business after the inception job, she worked with another team. Another team headed by a more carefree man named Anthony. She had called up Anthony and bought his used PASIV device from him a while ago. It wasn’t half as clean or sophisticated as Arthur’s but it did the job. She also snuck a few vials of somnacin from Yusuf’s lab while he was asleep on his lawn chair, cat dozing off on his lap.

So she left LA and went up to Portland and visited her family for a few days. Her parents were worried for her and her older brother Aegisthus (they called him Aegi) came back from medical school just to make sure that she  “wasn’t dead yet.” After a few days with them, she felt discontent. There was no excitement that her family could offer. She was antsy for creating something, for building worlds and destroying it within a blink of an eye.

One afternoon, as she sat on the family couch, nursing a cup of tea, staring blankly at the paid commercial on television about a workout DVD, she noticed that her hands began to shake. She quickly put her cup down and tried to still her hands. They shook uncontrollably and she was glad that her parents were out so they wouldn’t have to witness it. She looked out the window and saw her old sandbox where she would build sandcastles with ease and then stomp them down with equal effortlessness. And right then at that moment, she felt the need to create something, something way beyond imagination and reality.

She ran quickly to her room and unzipped her suitcase and brought out the PASIV. Arthur had taught her how to work the PASIV for one job when she had to watch over them as they went under. She quickly inserted the somnacin into the device and unrolled the IV from its spool. She laid down on the bed and pricked the needle into her wrist. The time has long passed since the cold of the needle caused her to flinch. Before she became hazy, she remembered that she forgot to lock her bedroom door…

Buildings, tall skyscrapers and churches that reached almost as tall as the skyscrapers

A revolving door that spins her into a staircase travelling up the building, steps vanishing and disintegrating behind her as she lifts her foot off of it.

She jumps and both feet lift from the ground and she is falling, remnants of the distant memory of limbo surge through her mind. Fischer, Cobb and Mal. What a fucking mess. And she is falling.

And suddenly she is not. She’s in a gothic church with colours so bold and daring on the walls. The shades become even lighter as the roof reaches a point in the sky where it is so white that it shines. Like a star.

Running out of the church and onto the street that looks exactly like the Paris street that Cobb had dreamed up, she folds the road onto itself just for old time’s sake. She knows full well what will happen and she sits on the wooden chair at the café.

Time is running out, running like that man that is sprinting across the street with a Glock in his hand. Hair gelled back in a grey three-piece suit. His eyes are hard and precise as he glances at her quickly before he runs off.

Things disintegrate and explode. First the china, then the boxes and then the cobblestone ground. The projections are converging, like white blood cells she thinks quietly. And as the first projection’s hand is about to grab her, she smiles, still sitting in the chair calmly but her blood courses through her veins and her eyes are lively and wild. The hand grabs onto her neck and the café implodes.

Sharp pain explodes in her chest as if someone’s squeezing her so tight that she can’t breathe and she chokes on the blood shooting from her lungs into her throat-

She wakes up with a start. Panting heavily, she shakily rips the needle from her wrist and rolls it back into place. She runs a trembling hand through her brown curls, trying to catch her breath. After she calms down, she rolls the IV back and shuts the briefcase. She slides the device under her bed and leaves her bedroom into the living room with renewed vigor.

For the next few weeks, she continues this ritual. She becomes more and more antsy and distracted by the day. After three weeks, she realizes that she’s running out of somnacin and that Yusuf’s stash wasn’t enough to last the month that she was going to stay. So she had to go. She told her parents and her brother that her boss called and she was needed back in her position in LA as soon as possible.

Her parents understood but her brother, Aegi was more suspicious. She can still remember the tense conversation at the airport when he was about to drop her off.

“How come you never tell us where you work?”

“I told you Aegi, it’s an architectural firm.”

“How come you never tell us the name of the firm or your boss’s name or even where you live? Do you need to hide every goddamn thing? You leave us with only a phone number and sometimes you don’t even pick up days on end. What’s going on Ariadne? This isn’t like you.”    

“Look Aegi…I got to go. Take care of mom and dad, okay? And take care of yourself too.”

“If only I could say the same.”

She had felt guilty and saddened by the fact that she couldn’t tell her family anything, however, the prospect of getting back to work and creating things quickly took up her thoughts again. Once she touched down in LA, she went straight to the house where Cobb had set things up for their team. The team was there, all hunched around the table, files and papers in their hands, as was a tall blond woman wearing a pencil skirt and heels. Once Ariadne rushed in, all eyes turned towards her. Everyone was more than surprised.

“Ariadne darling, you came back much sooner than we all expected.”

The silence was thick with awkwardness.

“Yeah, I uh- I thought you guys needed me but I see you’ve already got that covered.”

Her eyes darted to the buxom blond who was sitting on a chair, very close to Arthur, legs crossed. Her skirt was hitching up her leg showing a lot of her thigh. She looked vaguely familiar. Arthur stood up and addressed what seemed to be on her mind.

“Ariadne, this is Ophelia, she is an architect whom I was acquainted and worked with…a long time ago.”

Ophelia smiled half heartedly and nodded towards Ariadne. She glanced up the side of Arthur’s body, laughing cunningly and speaking in a deep French accent.

“Oh Arthur, don’t be so modest, it wasn’t that long ago. And I think we know each other much better than being ‘acquainted with’.”

Ariadne raised her eyebrows a little at Arthur’s direction then looked away. Cobb cut in.

“But you could stay and help. Ophelia hasn’t finished all the layers yet and we could use another pair of eyes.”

Ophelia raised one eyebrow at Cobb and tilted her head. She then looked at Ariadne with a sly face.

“It is a pleasure.”

But it wasn’t a pleasure at all. Working with Ophelia made her aware of how pitifully small and unattractive her own body was. It brought back all the insecurities of the past, and this new competition did not help with her desperate need of somnacin and dream sharing. She was supposed to create the second layer of the dream but she would always get distracted by Ophelia flirting with Arthur or Ophelia stroking Arthur’s arm. He didn’t seem to mind too much though, however, he did seem annoyed by her voice sometimes.

And her? She was even more irritated and distracted than usual. Well, the new agitated usual. And everyone seemed to notice. Cobb noticed her erratic motions and her darting eyes. Eames noticed the shaking of her hands when holding cups and the trembling of her fingers as she drew sketches. Ophelia happily mentioned the jagged lines and rigid curves on the layouts. And Arthur, he managed to disregard her behavior with a slight air of nonchalance. And it wasn’t as if she was behaving this way for him to notice, but she did catch a few frowning faces that came his way.

She’s told every one of them not to worry and she was just stressed or had too many cups of coffee. But she knew that they didn’t believe her. Cobb nearly let her go once, but she managed to cut him off by telling him that she and one of her old friends in LA were going to a spa that day. Another lie, but she didn’t even seem to keep count any more. But she could never trick Eames. Instead of actually going to the spa with “an old friend”, she ended up at a bar, nursing a glass of scotch in her hands. Eames followed her, but she was too tired to notice. He sat down on the stool next to her and waved two fingers at the bartender.

“Isn’t that a strong drink even for you darling?”

She snorts.

“I seem to be dealing with many a strong thing lately.”

The bartender laid down a napkin and a glass in front of Eames and mixed some gin and whiskey in his glass. Ariadne raised her eyebrows.

“I see you’re deciding to keep your liver.”

Eames shrugged.

“It’s keeping up alright, although I won’t know until I’m fifty.”

Ariadne sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose.

“Why are you here Eames?”

Eames gave her a half hearted smile.

“Can’t a friend come drink with another friend at, what is it, two o’clock in the afternoon? And besides, a man can’t let a pretty lady like you drink alone, can he?”

Ariadne gave him a frustrated glare. They continued drinking in silence.

“I see you’ve upped your alcohol level in no longer being a lightweight.”

Ariadne smiled, bringing the glass to her lips once again. After a few minutes, she finally spoke up.

“Why are you really here Eames? Did Cobb send me a babysitter to make sure I’m okay?”

  

Eames flashed her a knowing look.

“Ah, you see my dear Ariadne, I think you know full well why I’m here. Do you want to talk about your recent edginess or would you prefer to bitch about Arthur?”

Ariadne remained silent. Eames sighed dramatically.

“I guess we should start with the lesser of two evils. Arthur is a hare-brained prat, or what you Americans like to call it, a stuck-up jerk. He shouldn’t be dancing around two women like that, but he is more inclined towards Ophelia these days.”

Ariadne laughed bitterly.

“He can dance around whomever he chooses, I wouldn’t care. And it’s not like he likes me or anything.”

Eames smiled slyly.

“Oh you see, that’s where you’re wrong Ariadne. You know how back in elementary school when boys would always pull the pigtails of girls they liked hmm?”

Ariadne chuckled.

“Are you speaking from experience Eames? I can see you being that annoying little son of a bitch who kept pulling my ponytail back when I was in the fourth grade.”

“Well, Arthur has a demented elementary way of showing his affections for women. It is safe to say that he has not grown up one bit in his ways to win over a lady. His methods include pissing off the girl he likes by flirting with another woman and tricking an innocent little architect into kissing him in a three level dream.”

Ariadne turns sharply to see a knowing glint in Eames’s eyes.

“Oh come off it Ariadne, the entire team knows what happened, with the exception of Dom. It is literally impossible to walk in between your and his desks without being smothered by the amount of eye fucking going on between you two. If you could only tone it down a notch then it would be less obvious, oh actually, not really.”

Ariadne shrugged.

“I think he truly likes Ophelia. I’ve never seen him flirt so heavily with another female.”

Eames chokes on his drink.

“Are you joking? You were victim to the brunt of his flirting back when we were doing inception. His flirting involves heavy staring and undressing you with his eyes. I was surprised he hadn’t just fucked you on his desk and get it over with already.”

Ariadne blushed.

“You’re still the lightweight I see.”

“Shut up Eames, let’s not talk about Arthur.”

“But honestly though, he doesn’t like Ophelia half as much as he likes you. You don’t notice but, he does stare at you when he’s with Ophelia, hoping to catch a glance of your hate-filled, jealous glares at her. It makes him giddy with delight, the sick bastard. And Ophelia, well let’s just say she isn’t half as talented or as charismatic as you are, my darling.”

Ariadne glanced down sadly at her almost empty glass.

“What’s with their history then?”

Eames sighed.

“It was a complex and fucked-up relationship. They would keep running around in circles and play tedious games with one another. But it was Arthur who ended it. She was an okay architect but she was a better extractor. I think they worked together for a bit but I haven’t seen her since they broke off whatever weird thing they were in.”

Ariadne frowned and hiccupped.

“She is a very beautiful woman.”

Eames smiled.

“She is indeed but she has a shitty cruel mind. What Arthur likes about you is that you’re generous and courageous and damned talented with an imagination that is endless. Maybe you’re not as stunning as Ophelia but you have your own allure. I would have made a move on you ages ago but then again Arthur is very protective of you.”

Ariadne smiled a little.

“How do you know so much about his feelings? He isn’t the kind of guy who spills his guts.”

Eames shrugged and lifted his glass.

“You learn a lot about a man when you enter his dreams repeatedly and for someone who has minimal imagination; his projections are as easy to read as a book.”

They lapse into an uncomfortable silence once again. Eames buys her another drink, a cosmopolitan this time. Ariadne gives him a look but drinks it anyways.

“Ariadne, we need to talk about your somnacin intake.”

“Eames-”

“Look, it’s not healthy and trust me, I’ve been there. You may think it’s great and all that right now but once you lose sight of reality, everything gets messier. I managed to get out while I could, but I hear it’s harder for architects.”

Ariadne shifted in her seat.

“Eames, you don’t understand. How can I stop creating when there are so many things that I haven’t even thought of that can be made. There are so many things and structures I can explore and-“

Eames grabs onto her hand.

“I’m not saying that you should stop, I’m just saying that you should take things by stride. Don’t get sucked in by the dreams all at once. It will do you no favors. We want to keep you, not lose you.”

Ariadne downs her drink and picks up her jacket from the stool next to her. She jumps off of her own stool and at this time she cursed her height as she landed tipsily on her feet. She held on the ledge for support. Ariadne speaks in a quiet and angry tone.

“You know, you shouldn’t be the one talking. You don’t understand pure creation; you don’t understand what it’s like having a taste of something that you may never ever do in reality. All you do is pretend to be people, but I get to create. I get to create.”

And with that she leaves Eames at the bar, drinking his fourth glass of his odd blend of gin and whiskey.

Ariadne knew that Eames was right. They were all right, it wasn’t healthy and she was slowly losing her sanity, but as long as she had that golden bishop, she had nothing to worry about. But even her bishop seemed unnaturally light these days. She would twirl the bishop between her fingers like she twirls her pencils, but the feeling was unnatural and light and she would drop it often. And she was often surprised when the bishop would fall over when she tipped it.

And Cobb noticed. Without the shadow of Mal clouding his mind and judgment, he’s more perceptive. And in a way, Cobb has become protective of her since the inception job. It was his own screwed up way of repaying her; by keeping an extra eye out for her and making sure she doesn’t get involved in any of the shit they were in. Ariadne almost felt like she was his daughter and he was babying her, telling her to go home early to get some rest or leaving fruit on her desk. And how could anyone not notice the bona fide Cobb squinty stare. When she would drop pencils or sketches or when her hands would start to tremble, she’d always catch his glances.

Until one day, it seemed as though he couldn’t take it anymore. They just came out of a practice dream where Ariadne was showing Cobb the design. She woke up a little later than Cobb, shaking from the exhilaration and suddenness of her death in the dream. When she startled up from the lawn chair, fingers already fumbling with the IV, Cobb was regarding her with dark eyes, his forearms resting on his thighs and his body turned towards her lawn chair. She purposely ignored his stares and busied herself with the IV and the PASIV. And Cobb in turn noticed how fluent her motions were with the PASIV, he frowned.

“Ariadne, let’s talk about what’s going on with you recently.”

Ariadne glanced at Cobb.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Cobb.”

Cobb sighs and pushes his hair back with his fingers.

“Come on Ariadne, I’ve seen the way you’ve been acting recently, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that it worries me.”

Ariadne scoffed.

“Well you shouldn’t be worried about me. I’m not your daughter, I’m your employee, and it’s not your job to worry about me.”

Cobb leans forward a bit more and stares at her, directly, no hesitation.

“Then, as your employer, can you tell me why you’ve been acting so fitfully and why your hands tremble when they work. And you can’t blame it on the caffeine because I’ve seen you work with more caffeine than that in your system during the inception job.”

Ariadne shifts uncomfortably in her lawn chair.

“Cobb, I appreciate your concern but, I am fine. I. Am. Fine.”

She punctuates each word harshly and Cobb looks at her warily.

“To be honest, I am familiar with the symptoms that you’re experiencing. It’s not like I haven’t seen them before and you’re not fooling anybody. I’ve been observing you and I can’t tell where you’ve been getting all your dream sharing from because we don’t do all that much here. We don’t see you going under more than two or three times a week, yet you are showing all the symptoms of a person who’s going under about fourteen or fifteen times a week.”

Ariadne feels the back of her throat becoming dry and her heart pounding just a little faster. She does not like the feeling of anticipating herself lying to her boss, her mentor, her friend. So she doesn’t say anything.

“Ariadne, I know the excitement of the building, of the creation. I’ve been where you’ve been, but don’t lose yourself. Don’t push the boundaries too far, nothing good is going to come out of it.”

Ariadne scoffs.

“And you speak from experience don’t you? Do you honestly think you have the right to tell me not to lose myself? Wasn’t I the one who dug you out of the pile of shit you buried yourself in? And here you are telling me to watch myself. You know, Arthur was right. You do spend too much time doing things you say never to do, so why should I listen to a hypocrite?”

She jumps off out of the lawn chair and storms away, bringing her legs as fast as she could take herself. But before reaching the door she thinks she hears Cobb say softly.

“Because you and I are more alike than you will ever admit.”

She doesn’t know why, but she just can’t take what they’re saying to heart. Maybe it was because of her intense desire to create or the fact that deep down, she knew they were right. Sometimes she thought about what life would have been like if she had never been exposed to dream sharing. Perhaps it would have been relatively normal. Maybe she would have worked at an architectural firm, creating buildings rivaling those of her idols. Maybe she would have met a guy and gotten married with children. Maybe she would have lived a fulfilling life, but she wonders if she would still sketch never ending skyscrapers on the corners of her papers. Would she still dream about gelled back hair and a crumbling city by the sea? But there was no propriety in that, and she would shake the thoughts off like a half remembered dream.

But when she was down under, it felt like she finally knew how to live. She was alive as building sprung from the ground, building themselves as they shot upwards. How could she say no to endless possibilities and paths? She felt as though finally, she had achieved her maximum potential with no limitations. And perhaps she should have cursed Professor Miles for introducing her into this world of boundless opportunity against his conscience, letting her fall into the snare of dream sharing.

The problem was that once she started, she couldn’t stop. Cobb was right. She couldn’t stop pushing the boundaries to see what held in store for her. She was careful not to go deeper into more dream levels because once in limbo was enough for her. But the creation made her bolder and the ramifications appeared in reality as well.

She disliked Ophelia more and more as she got to know her, much to her chagrin. She found Ophelia stuck up and irritating. Ophelia enjoyed pointing out her flaws and weaknesses yet she was unable to take criticism. In other words, she could dish it out but she couldn’t take it. Ariadne wasn’t afraid to say it like it was and neither was Ophelia. They were alike in that likeness yet very different when it came to personality. Ophelia was cold and calculating, not to mention sultry and sexy. Ariadne was messy and disorganized but had a vibrant and intelligent vibe. Not to mention, Ophelia had more skeletons in her closet than Ariadne had bones on her dinner plate.

Ariadne never really wanted to be a shrink of any kind, but she couldn’t help but notice when other people tried to hide things from her. She’s been burned by her curiosity several times, but she can’t stop thinking that maybe she could help. Dom Cobb was an excellent example of how her curiosity could have destroyed her. Somehow, by luck, she managed to escape a possible death and to divert a major crisis during the inception. And it’s not to say that people appreciate her doing so, in fact, they hate it. Ariadne almost thought that Cobb was going to tell her to fuck off a few times. But what could she say? She was an intervener.

So when Ariadne experienced Ophelia’s dreams, she couldn’t help but find secrets in every aspect of her dreams. She was good at hiding it, concealing it. Many of them were corporal secrets and hidden horrors but the most prevalent problem she was trying to cover up was her feelings that rarely showed up in reality. 

Ophelia and Ariadne were walking down a concrete path leading to the bricked house. The house was crumbling and had vines twining up the bricks. It was indeed an excellent house for the extraction because it was almost an exact replication of the mark’s war torn home in France. World War Two was a while back, and the house has since been remodeled, but Ariadne felt accomplished while looking on to her creation.

Ophelia sniffed.

“This will do.”

Ariadne grinned, with more time with the PASIV back at her apartment she had been able to sharpen up on her skills. Not to mention, she had more time to prepare for this presentation especially. The house looked especially realistic.

Ariadne extended her arm towards the house.

“Shall we take a look inside?”

Ophelia nodded curtly and followed Ariadne inside the old house. The sitting room was demolished but the kitchen was still much intact, except for a few bits of concrete from the wall separating the rooms. Ariadne showed her around the first three rooms on the first floor while explaining.

“This is going to be the house after the explosion. And since Eames is going to be the SS soldier, he’ll be coming through the front door.”

Their tactic was to scare the secret out of the mark. If that did not work, then Ariadne planted a safe on the top floor where the secret had to be stored. Ariadne continued to show all three levels of the house and finally the basement loaded with guns and artillery should Dom, Eames, Ophelia and Arthur meet any problems with projections or mind military.

They weren’t going to make the same mistakes again.

It wasn’t supposed to be a complex job therefore one layer should suffice, but however, one could never be too careful. Should this plan not work, they would go deeper into the second layer. Ariadne showed Ophelia the bedroom and the PASIV cleverly tucked behind a painting.

That was when he appeared.

Arthur strode through the door in his grey three pieced suit with his hair gelled back. His black loafers were recently shined and his watch reflecting the light coming through the window. His eyes were dark and his jaw was clenched.

Ariadne frowned. Arthur wasn’t supposed to meet them here, he wasn’t even supposed to come down at all.

“What are you doing here Arthur?”

He said nothing and continued to stare at Ophelia. However the more Ariadne looked at Arthur, the more she felt that something was off. There was no square bulge from his pant pocket to indicate that the die was there. It was empty. He was a projection.

It could not possibly be Ariadne’s projection because she would never have dreamed him up like this. It had to be Ophelia, it was her dream. Her head snapped around to face Ophelia who was staring at him too, with anger and was it…lust?

“Ophelia, what is this?”

Ophelia opened her mouth to reply but Arthur had already crossed the room and gripped her neck and forced his lips on hers in a punishing kiss. Ariadne looked at the both of them, too stunned for words. They were both fighting for dominance in the kiss, seemingly forgotten that Ariadne was still in the room. Arthur growled and pushed Ophelia to the wall and pinned her wrists above her head. She managed to get one of her hands free to slap him across the face. Arthur chuckled, his dark eyes staring at her and his lips were on hers once more. Ophelia moaned and yanked at his hair which made Arthur grunt and thrust his knee between her legs.

Ariadne was thoroughly shocked. She didn’t know what to think about this free show. But they didn’t have much time. Ariadne ran to the window and peered out. The projections of Ophelia’s mind had somehow caught on and were converging.

“Shit.”

She reached under the bed and retrieved two hand guns. She threw one onto the bed and loaded hers. When she glanced back around at Ophelia and Arthur, they were still at it. He was whispering a litany of dirty French into her ear so fast that Ariadne couldn’t keep up with it. Arthur was about to tear off her clothes, something that Ariadne did not want to see. Just as Arthur pulled back from kissing Ophelia to rip off her camisole, Ariadne shot him in the head. She winced as the projection of Arthur fell to the floor, blood and brains staining the wall behind him.

Ophelia was breathing harshly, and leaned back against the wall, eyes wide with horror. Shame and adrenaline quickly extinguished the horror that showed on her face as she shook slightly. Ariadne turned to her and said sarcastically. 

“Sorry for interrupting, but we don’t have time to fuck around. Literally.”

Ophelia quickly buttoned up her suit jacket and crossed the room to the bed. She loaded her own hand gun and looked out the window. Ariadne could hear her inhale quickly.

“There are too many of them. We can only hold off so many.”

Ariadne nodded, knowing what it implied. There was still five minutes on the clock up above, so they had another hour down here. They didn’t have enough ammo or the will to gun down that many projections. Ariadne could already hear a lot of them running up the stairs. They had to kill themselves or be ripped apart by the projections. The first few burst through the door and Ophelia shot them down. More came swarming in and throughout the chaos, she could hear one bullet zinging close to her and then lodging itself in her head. And because pain always came later, all was black.

Ariadne shot up from the lawn chair, gasping for breath. Arthur looked up from the computer on his desk but Ariadne was avoiding his glance. Ophelia shuddered and opened her eyes. She then sat up and calmly took out the IV from her wrist then reached for Ariadne’s. Slipping the IV out of her wrist, Ophelia got up to tend to the PASIV but Ariadne gripped her arm. She glared at the blonde and whispered harshly.

What the fuck was that all about?”

Ophelia glanced at Ariadne, her nostrils flared. She yanked her wrist from Ariadne’s grasp and turned to the PASIV, saying softly.

“We’ll discuss this outside.”

Ariadne stood up defiantly and put herself between Ophelia and the PASIV. She raised her voice slightly.

“I don’t want to fucking discuss this outside. You have a problem Ophelia, maybe you should just deal with him-“

Ophelia leaned near her face, her breath tingling against her cheek, her eyes staring right at hers. Her jaw clenched and she said once more calmly but cruelly in her harsh French tongue.

“We will discuss this outside.”

She could feel Arthur’s eyes on the scene they were making. She could also see Yusuf and Eames swivel in their chairs to get a glimpse. Eames had a Cheshire grin about his face that told her that he knew exactly what was going on. Ariadne averted her glance back to Ophelia and gave her one of her harshest glares.

“Fine. Outside.”

She stormed out of the warehouse, door slamming behind her.

Ariadne doesn’t know what makes her angrier, the fact that she just witnessed Ophelia mind fucking a projection of Arthur or that she had shot Arthur afterwards. Whatever messed up, dirty kink Ophelia had with Arthur, she was just as sick to kill him for it. She took some steady breaths and reminded herself that it was just a dream. Just a dream. But it had all felt so real, the heat in the room, the smell of sweat, the thudding of footsteps and most of all the sound of the flying bullet. Now her hand was shaking and she can feel her body convulsing from the excitement or was it the lack of denouement that came after the action. It felt like a rush and her head was still spinning.

She leaned against the wall to steady herself and strained to keep her knees from shaking. She was smiling though. She hadn’t been getting any projections in her induced dreaming with the PASIV back at home. This was her first action in a long time. Too long.

She heard footsteps approaching the warehouse door and pushed off the wall. Ophelia walked out briskly and turned to the corner where Ariadne was standing. Since Ophelia was at least a foot taller than her, she had to crane her neck a little to meet her eyes. Ophelia was the first to speak.

“I am sorry you had to witness that. It was unprofessional.”

Ariadne frowned.

“What was that even? What, is he your obsession? Are you that depraved?”

Ophelia grabbed her arm tightly and hissed.

“Don’t speak of something you know nothing of.”

Ariadne glanced at her captive arm and back at Ophelia.

“Even if you tell me, would I want to know? All I know is that he is no longer with you and that your projections of him need to stay under control. And if you can’t control yourself, I’m going to have to tell Cobb about this.”

Ophelia barked with laughter and released her arm.

“Oh little miss tattletale, you’re not all that innocent are you? You don’t think the entire team knows your own obsession with dreaming and somnacin. You should be the one to control yourself. You don’t think we don’t see the hand shaking or the excitement in your eyes?”

Ariadne glared at her while her face flushed with shame.

“It’s none of your business.”

Ophelia smiled.

“No it’s not. Neither is my problem yours. You know, I heard all about your nosy little ways with Cobb. I’ll have you know that I’m not half as forgiving or as desperate as Cobb was. I will not hesitate to bring you down. Consider yourself warned, this stays between us.”

Ariadne looks down.

Ophelia growls and grabs her arm again.

“Are we clear?”

Ariadne grudgingly looks up into her cold blue eyes.

“Yes.”

    

Ophelia releases her arm and straightens her suit jacket and dusts her pencil skirt. She walks away, her high heels clicking with the ground. But while she leaves she calls out.

“Be careful Ariadne, you wouldn’t be the first one to be hooked onto dreaming and then have something… untoward happen to them.”

Ariadne glared at the retreating back of Ophelia as she walked back into the warehouse. She didn’t follow, knowing that if she went back in there, she would be confronted by Yusuf and Eames, and she wasn’t patient today. Not after what happened, she just wanted to go home or go for a drink. Besides, she’s done planning the layers. God help her if they want her to go down with Ophelia, she’s not doing that again. It was Ophelia that fucked up, not she. If they wanted her to show them the layers, she’ll do it for anyone but Ophelia.

She took a walk along the beach of Marina Del Ray where she somehow managed to buy a nice little condo for herself and another roommate. While she was walking on the sand, she couldn’t help but wish she was back in Paris. Paris was her home away from home. She missed the quaint corners and the hospitality of her friends and her colleagues. She missed the university and Professor Miles. LA wasn’t where she belonged, however glamorous or sparkly it was. She wanted to wear her scarf and cardigans again without judgment.

And somehow, she wanted life to go back being the way it was, when creation had a limit. In a way, she thinks that her life would have been so much simpler and content if she had never been introduced to dream sharing. She doesn’t blame Miles for it, he gave her a choice. He had even warned her. But once again, curiosity killed the cat; the old cliché that is her downfall. Cobb was right, they always come back. And now she was hooked onto this dreaming like it was crack.

Ariadne returned back to her condo when the sun set on the beach. Her roommate was out, probably clubbing with her more socialite friends. She was too drained from today’s earlier dream sharing with Ophelia to try to go under again today. She opted for sitting on the couch with some decaffeinated tea and Madam Bovary. It was satisfying to read about another woman’s scandalous affairs while her love life sank like a rock.

There was a knock on the door. Ariadne’s brows furrowed. She didn’t remember inviting anyone over. Or perhaps it was Ophelia coming to keep true to the words she had said in their exchange earlier today. She opened the drawer beside the couch and grabbed the Glock and slipped it down the backside of her pants.

She moved to the door and looked through the peep hole.

“Arthur?”

-----end of [1/2]-----------

A/N: It seems that you have made it to the end of the fic. This is where I promise you that I will update the second part soon, however do you honestly want me to lie? As the new semester is rolling around, I'll see if I'll have enough time to actually finish the second part. I have large plans for it for sure, but don't be counting on it too soon. This one actually took me around 3, 4, 5 a few months to churn this out. Hopefully you enjoyed this. And please do leave a comment down below to let me know if you have any thoughts/suggestions/criticism/love for the fic. 
Thanks. 




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It's good to see some output in this fandom still. I miss reading Arthur/Ariadne stuff.

As to this fic? I think you've got a talent for writing a descent. Ariadne's addiction is well captured, and it hurts all the more because she's a functioning addict. Makes it easier for her to convince herself that she's truly okay. Ouch.

Not sure how I'm feeling about Ophelia. I'm side-eyeing her in a big way, which, of course, is your intent. Interesting things going on in her head, hmmm?

And Arthur. Oh, Arthur. How right Eames is about him. Love it.

The one suggestion I can make is to watch your tenses. You fluctuate between present (She walks, he says, for example) and past (she walked, he said, again for example). I don't know if this was intentional or not -- it might be a neat device showing how detached Ariadne is becoming from reality, but it's coming across as a little distracting to me. That's all.

But seriously though. I like this. I like the ideas you're playing with. I like Eames and his attempts to help Ariadne, and I love how there's all this history about somnacin addiction floating around in the background that's a total elephant in the room.

Nicely done.

Thank you. This is exactly why I need a beta, at first the fluctuating tenses was intentional, until it became a real problem. One of the reasons I desperately need a beta is because of the verb tense problem. But I did kind of come back to the fic on and off, which really messed with the tenses. But thank you for bringing it up.


MORE PLEASE!!!!!!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you. :) I shall certainly try.

Can't wait for more!

This is right up my alley. The Hamlet reference is interesting. I'm looking into allusions here, but maybe I'm completely reading into it.

Re: Can't wait for more!

Interesting you should say that. I never thought much about Ophelia linked to the play Hamlet. I suppose you can draw similarities, but now that you've said it, maybe I'll look further into it.
I'm glad you're enjoying it though!

Re: Can't wait for more!

Well, perhaps Ariadne is the one who plays Ophelia in this fic.

Re: Can't wait for more!

That would have been some amazing mind-fuckery. Cool idea.

Hello there, welcome back to the fold! I just now found the time to read through this. Very interesting. I'm really curious to see how this ends. Will it have a happy ending (A/A), or not? You don't have to answer that, I'm merely wondering. I can see it working either way and I'd be satisfied.
For me, I think what I perversely like about this is that I'm not being constantly satisfied (meaning A/A are not together and it's not all lovey-dovey and fluffy), because you know, I'm a sucker for all that.
Good luck on finishing it (I understand about taking forever to write something). Take your time and do what you need to do. I'll be here waiting to read it! :)

Oh darling, it's so good to be back, especially because of people like you. I'm still working on it and I'm not about to spoil the ending of this one for you (because I actually plan on finishing this one).
You know me too well. I am a sucker for angst too. I love the element of angst in fics to the point that I almost wish that maybe one of them would die they don't get together. I really love the pieces where they go through something insane together and the angst meter just explodes. But I totally relate with you on that front.

Oh god, I do need luck on finishing it don't I? It's a lot about procrastinating and workload. We'll see if I can get this done by the end of Christmas break. Thanks so much hon! It's great to hear from you again. And I am so ashamed that I haven't read any of your pieces yet, but I will get around to that the same time I finish this.

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